The Sorcerer’s Apprentice at the Ambassadors Theatre, London.
Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, based on a poem by Goethe which also inspired Disney’s groundbreaking Fantasia, wielded its magic at the Ambassadors Theatre in a one-night-only concert presentation.
In the story an old sorcerer goes out, leaving his apprentice behind to perform a bunch of chores. The bored apprentice enchants a broom to help him out but soon chaos ensues. It’s not until the sorcerer’s return that the broom can be stopped.
Ben Frost and Richard Hough have put their own spin on the well-known tale and use the story to explore the relationship between a father, the sorcerer (Neil McDermott), and his daughter, the apprentice (Naomi Petersen).
He is desperately trying to protect his daughter, while she is trying to prove to him that she is all grown up and can be trusted with magic.
On top of that, there is a second storyline about a dying queen (Tracie Bennett) who discovers that her wicked son (Jos Slovick) isn’t the rightful heir to the throne and goes about finding the princess who will take over her reign once she dies.
As narrator, Jan Ravens told the audience at the start of the show that this concert represented a work-in-progress. As a result, the actors worked with scripts in hand, but this wasn’t too distracting as they seemed to know the text well enough. In fact, after a while the folders (or iPad, in one case) weren’t as noticeable.
Although the show was suitable for all ages, there were numerous occasions of not-so-subtle innuendo that hopefully went over the heads of any youngsters present, but were very funny for those who understood them.
The best line was delivered by Chancellor Breel (Nigel Richards) when he debated who was the ‘fastest sword’ with the prince.
Baring in mind that this show is still developing, there is a significant lack of conflict in the piece. There is a couple of brief moments where princess Eva is cornered by an open window at the top of a tower or the sorcerer becomes randomly unconscious, but more time could be given to develop these strands of the story before they are concluded and the story moves on.
Within the cast Tracie Bennett as Queen Larmia and Naomi Petersen as Eva the apprentice looked the most confident with their roles, with Petersen never once holding her script.
It may be that the story would be more compelling if the focus were only on the sorcerer and apprentice’s relationship, but with the addition of a love interest, Lieutenant Erik (Blair Gibson) and the heir to the throne subplot, the text feels a little under-developed.